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By: Al Necro

Photo by: Justina Villanueva

Krallice‘s albums have been making it to end-of-year lists since the very first one, their self-titled début, was released to wide acclaim nearly seven years ago. Their latest album, Ygg Huur, is perhaps their most radically evolved masterpiece yet. Ygg Huur attempts to do what no black metal band does or does as well, which is to combine a pronounced attempt at technically-challenging play with black metal. Black metal purists would decry the very thought of doing this. Black metal itself isn’t prone to such experimentation, with many bands opting to pay tribute to second wave styled black metal bands instead of evolving the genre by experimenting with different elements. Hordes of fans still attest to black metal purity, claiming that black metal bands in the eighties and nineties alone are trve. Al Necro spoke with singer/guitarist Mick Barr to find out more.

(((o))): How do you see black metal as a genre, guys? How did you first envision adding technical play to black metal? 

Mick: Black metal through all its permutations remains a sacred music of Satan. A way of expressing whatever that means to whomever is performing it. Since all sacred things should be left up to interpretation, so it also is with black metal. And there has never been just one sound or feeling within black metal. Even from the first wave, Mercyful Fate, Venom, Bathory all sound very different from each other. And it has never remained stagnant. Also I want to point out that Mayhem, arguably the first band of the second wave of black metal, has made some of the most challenging and technical metal ever.

(((o))): Is music particularly evolutionary like anything organic is, in that change is essential to its relevance?

Mick: Change is not so much essential as unavoidable, but some will want things to remain unchanged, and that’s fine, at least within music. Traditionalism is a good and important thing. Some of my favorite music from the world is of a traditional sort. 

(((o))): Do you anticipate that fans will appreciate this unique quality of your music?

Mick: I try not to anticipate what others will think of the music I make, but to be honest, I had no idea what to expect with this album.

(((o))): Are you satisfied overall with Ygg Huur?  Do you think it’s your best album to-date?

Mick: Yes I am satisfied with Ygg Huur. We worked hard on this music, probably harder than on any of our other albums. But I can’t really say if it’s our best album or not, that’s not up to me. 

(((o))): Albums like Krallice’s Dimensional Bleedthrough and Diotima showcased black metal with strong progressive leanings. Now, Krallice attempt to push the boundaries further than any band has taken it, with the release of Ygg Huur. How did writing older material like Diotima and Dimensional Bleedthrough differ from writing Ygg Huur? Do you plan to use this method again?

Mick: Our method for writing music has remained more or less unchanged since the first album. One of the 3 song writers will bring forth a song structure and the others will write their parts to it, then we collectively work on it as a band until it feels more or less complete. Or until it is time to record the album, in which case we just go for it, and hope we can make it feel finished in the moment. 

(((o))): Was there a concerted attempt to push the boundaries of black metal so it would really become your own? 

Mick: We never really plan or attempt anything other than what’s on our minds in the moment. Our ambitions are purely to write music that makes sense to us in that particular time. And this time, we all felt a bit tired of our old melodic black metal sound, where riffs went 4 times then built up to a new riff or reprise. We needed to do something different for ourselves.

(((o))): Where do you plan to take the next album?

Mick: We don’t have any set plans of what to do next, other than what makes sense to us when we begin writing again. 

(((o))): Ygg Huur may not be easy to get into, but listen closely to Ygg Huur on occasion and you will hear riffs that are mindblowing. If you listen to the entire album intently, it may be too much to absorb in one sitting. Repeat listens are therefore mandatory. But unlike many black metal bands that play established templates within the sub-genre, Krallice are blazing their own trail. Ygg Huur finds the band at its most difficult stage in the timeline of albums released, having distanced themselves from all of black metal, along with the Krallice of the past. Do you guys agree that Ygg Huur is a more difficult listen?

Mick: I guess Ygg Huur is a more difficult listen, though I know these songs in and out, so I lack that perspective. But if so, it kind of makes sense because it was a much more involved process in writing and arranging.

(((o))): Do you feel that fans will support Krallice no matter what other elements you guys use, just as long as the music is great?

Mick: As far as what people will support, well that’s up to them. Not everyone has to like all of our records. I like certain records from bands and dislike others. I love most Voivod records, but I don’t like the ones with Jason Newsted, even though they probably put their hearts and souls into those, especially since those were Piggy’s last. but I don’t like alternative rock, and some people don’t like technical metal. We all have our own musical allergies. 

(((o))): The riffs on Ygg Huur are often mindblowing. Do you plan to play this live? 

Mick: Thanks. We have already performed these songs live a few times, and will probably again at some point. Here’s a video of the full album live debut:

(((o))): So, what brought about the metamorphosis of something widely critically- acclaimed, to something potentially polarizing and how do you feel about that accomplishment, the reactions you’ve received and so forth…?

Mick: The reactions so far seem to have been pretty good, from what I’ve read and heard. The main complaint seems to be that we sound like Gorguts now, which I find to be a compliment, even though I don’t completely agree with it. But Krallice has been the best received project I’ve ever been involved with, and I’m still surprised and honored that people take to this music. 

(((o))): Did you guys ever set out on an undertaking like Ygg Huur when you guys formed the band? Was it your vision all along to lead us from progressive leanings to outright technical?

Mick: Honestly, I’m surprised it took us this long to make an album like this. But we had no grand scheme to lead up to anything, just to make the music that make sense to us in that time period. 

(((o))): What other music besides metal do the members of Krallice like, and how do those influences affect your sound?

Mick: I don’t like to analyze influence too much. Everything influences everything to an extent. And I can’t really speak for anyone else’s personal solo listening habits, but I can say that a large amount of our rehearsal time is eaten up by listening to terrible music to the point of delirium. We explore ALL forms of music for enjoyment, disgust, absurdity and inspiration.  

(((o))): Krallice are on the verge of unprecedented greatness at a time when extreme metal is still not commercially viable. Perhaps that is ultimately the lure of music so extreme. Will Krallice be flag-bearers or also-rans? Truly beautiful music is never inclined to please an audience for the sake of pleasing it. It is an artist’s selfish impulse to express himself that drives him to explore something untrodden upon.

Mick: Not sure I understand this part of the question, but I don’t plan on being either “flag-bearers or also-rans”. I don’t have the illusion that Krallice will financially support me into my increasing adulthood, if that’s what you mean. 

I agree that I am drawn to music that has no interest in commercial viability. I think that’s why I’ve always been enamored with technical death metal, and other challenging music where the musicians have to be in top musical and physical shape, and chances are they won’t get much out of it, other than the music itself. There’s a purity of expression there, but I don’t think it’s the “artist’s selfish impulse”, I think that’s a bad way to word it. Because every artist, secretly or otherwise, wants and hopes their expression will be shared and understood.

(((o))): Every band sees the end of the road sometime. What will be a sign to you guys that you’ve done everything you’ve ever wanted to do under Krallice? What will the end of this journey be like and do you see bands following in your footsteps?

Mick: Every recording we make feels like it could be the last, and yet after every recording I feel inspired to write more music for this band. But when we’re done, I hope we won’t make any announcement to the fact. And I definitely don’t ever want to play a last “farewell” show. I hate when bands do that, like a fucking graduation ceremony. I prefer things to fade away into the mist. I also don’t see us ever getting new members. If anyone in the band doesn’t want to do it anymore, then that’s probably the end of the band. We don’t do anything unless we are all on board with it. 

(((o))): Thank you, guys for letting Echoes and Dust readers get to know you better. I wish Krallice the best and I hope to hear more from the band in the future.

Mick: Thank you back Echoes and Dust. New music will be released in the near future. Hyperion in January…


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